“I’m an artist, not a salesperson!” As a salon owner, have you ever heard those words from your team? “I don’t want to be pushy.” “I just want to do hair.” “I don’t want to push something on my clients that they don’t need.” “All my clients buy online.” The list of excuses and reasons goes on and on and it has been a never-ending challenge for our industry.
The reality is that it’s almost impossible to run a profitable salon company without having a healthy amount of retail sales. Why? Because the profit margins are so much better. Think about it:
Services require paying a human being to provide the service, products and tools to conduct the service, furniture (think sinks, chairs, stations, mirrors), insurance, water, electricity, and the list goes on.
Services are also limited in terms of capacity. You can only sell a certain amount of services based on the number of hours that your staff is available
Products are unlimited in terms of capacity. You can sell $100 of products in 2 minutes to 1 client.
To sell products, all you need are some shelves or display tables, and someone to process the transaction (and if you use online sales, you don’t need either of these!!).
So why is selling retail such a struggle? In this article we are going to demystify the salon retail stigma and focus on simple strategies to grow your salon retail sales.
Salon Retail Sales Myths
Let’s start by squashing the myth that retail sales are on the decline and that consumers aren’t buying products. U.S. consumers purchased over $90 Billion in beauty and personal care products last year and this number has been growing every single year. That’s Billion with a ‘B’! Of course it includes all channels – salons, drugstores, grocery stores, online. But there is more than enough to go around! In your salon company, you just need a tiny sliver of the pie in order to be very successful and profitable with retail. You don’t need every client to be purchasing from you.
That is not the goal because it is not realistic. The reality is that you only need about 2 or 3 clients out of 10 to purchase some retail from you in order to be setting yourself up for strong profitability from your salon company.
Rather than focusing on all the negative thoughts in your head or all the reasons outside of your control about why clients aren’t purchasing from you, it’s time to start focusing on the things that are within your control. We know that consumers are buying LOTS of beauty products somewhere, and we also know that almost all people with hair are visiting a beauty salon on a fairly regular basis.
When consumers are making a buying decision, they want INFORMATION, CONVENIENCE, QUALITY and VALUE. So if we only need 2 or 3 clients out of 10 to purchase, let’s look at how we can use these 4 buying criteria to our advantage to grow your salon retail sales.
INFORMATION: Tell! Don’t Sell!
For stylists that tell me “I’m an artist, not a salesperson”, “I just want to do hair”, or “I don’t want to push something on my clients that they don’t need”, I simply reply with these questions:
When you ‘do hair’, do you use products on your clients’ hair? (yes)
Why do you use products on your clients’ hair? (it helps to achieve the look they want or that I’m creating)
Do you use the same products on every client? (no)
Why do you use different products on each client? (because certain products work better on different types of hair)
Do your clients usually feel beautiful and satisfied with their look when they leave the salon? (of course!)
Do your clients want to look beautiful on the days that they are not coming to the salon? (yes)
Do your clients use hair products in order to help them look beautiful on the days that they are not coming in to the salon? (yes)
Would it make sense for them to use the same products that you used in the salon to create the look that they loved? (I guess... )
So here’s the big secret to putting this into place without making your stylists feel uncomfortable. Remove the word ‘sell’ and ‘selling’ from their vocabulary. Replace it with the word ‘tell’. If the scenario with the questions above is true (and it is), then part of being an artist and someone who just wants to ‘do hair’ is using products. And specific products are chosen for each client based on their hair type. All we need to do is have the stylist TELL the client WHAT product they are using on their hair, and WHY they chose that particular product for their hair type.
Remember that clients crave information in today’s day and age. By telling them WHAT is being used and WHY, they will not only appreciate knowing more information about their hair type, but they will actually feel more respect and confidence towards their stylist. Now if you want to go the extra mile and really make an impact, show the client HOW to use the product. You can capitalize on technology and creative digital marketing by taking a video of you styling your client’s hair so that they can see how to use the products and maintain their look at home.
Simply by following these techniques you are giving the client so many reasons to buy their products from you instead of somewhere else!
We are all busy in today’s world and as a result, convenience is an important factor in any buying decision. We have to make it easy for consumers to buy. The great news is that the customer is typically in your salon for anywhere from 45 minutes to a couple of hours, specifically there for their beauty needs. They are thinking about their hair and beauty and hopefully you are talking to them about their hair and beauty. You are using products on their hair and talking about them. What could possibly be more convenient than that moment to add a couple of products as they are paying their bill at the front desk?
We can make it even easier for them by doing a strategic checkout, where we place the products that we used on their hair at the front desk for them to see. It then becomes an easy question to ask “which of these would you be interested in taking home with you today to maintain your look?”
Let’s think of a few other ways that we can make it convenient for customers to buy from you. Perhaps they didn’t purchase while in the salon because they still had enough product left over at home from a previous purchase. How can we ensure that products from our salon company stay top of mind for the client even when they are not in the salon?
1. Build an online store for your salon: almost 70% of North American consumers make online purchases and this number only continues to grow year after year. Consumers are on their devices all the time and therefore online shopping is very convenient. You can have clients purchasing products 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with almost no maintenance by having an online store. The best news is that it is very affordable to set up your own online store these days. You can check out our simple, affordable online store for salons and spas here: www.salonsos.ca/e-commerce
2. Send promotions and special offers to your clients by email and text message. Think about it – consumers receive emails, coupons and flyers all the time from other businesses in other industries.
They are receiving specials from their local drugstores and grocery stores which sell beauty products. If your clients aren’t receiving anything from you, you are no longer top of mind. Simply posting your product specials on social media isn’t enough because not all of your clients follow you on social media and only a small percentage actually see each post. Be sure to get in the game by sending regular communications that engage your clients and inform them about specials.
Don’t forget to include a call-to-action that tells them exactly how they can take advantage of your special offer. If you’re looking for a powerful salon app that can reward customers with points and send text messages and emails with special offers and deals, check out our digital salon loyalty app: www.salonsos.ca/loyalty
Quality is obviously an important factor when choosing products and you have the benefit of working with professional salon hair products which have superior technology and better performance than the drugstore brands. This is an inherent advantage for salons. Beyond the fact that salon products are higher quality than drugstore brands, you have the advantage of providing an experience to your clients by showing them how to use the products. There are not many retail environments that can offer this, so make sure you are maximizing this advantage and making that experience special for your clients. It will increase the chances of them purchasing from you.
Now one thing to remember is that all professional products are not alike. There is quality that is proven through technology and there is quality that is perceived. Just like in any industry, consumers gravitate towards brand names that they recognize and trust with good reputations. Sony, Panasonic and LG are strong brands in the audio/video industry. People trust these brands because they have been around and because those companies spend lots of time and money marketing their products. Some salons think that being exclusive with a specialized brand of products will help them sell more.
Most of the time it makes it harder to sell because your clients don’t know that brand. You will have to do much more educating and marketing to convince people that it is a high quality product worth purchasing.
As much as we just discussed how important the quality of a product is for a purchase, it goes hand-in- hand that people want good quality at a good price. And that means ‘value’. Don’t confuse value with low price. Value can be defined as the relative worth, importance or usefulness that a person places on something.
This is an important concept to understand so that you don’t spend all your energy always discounting products in order to generate sales. Rather than discounting, think ‘value-add’! Let’s again look at what other industries do to stimulate purchases. Almost all retail businesses in the world today offer loyalty programs.
Drugstores, grocery stores, department stores, clothing stores, gas stations and many more all have some type of loyalty program that they offer customers. Why? It reduces the need to give as many discounts because you are offering points and rewards for purchases. The reason why loyalty programs are everywhere is because they are so successful at changing consumer behaviour – when run effectively, people become obsessed with earning more points and purchase more in the short and long term with a particular business.
When you run a discount, it changes the consumer behaviour for that one-time purchase, but it does nothing to stimulate future purchases other than telling the consumer to wait for another discount.
If you don’t yet have a salon loyalty program, it’s time to get in the game. Big Box beauty stores like Ulta and Chatters have their own loyalty programs so if you’re worried about losing business to them, a great way to start is with your own loyalty program that rewards purchases in YOUR salon.
If you already have a loyalty program but feel that it isn’t working for you, you might find the reason in our article (LINK TO ENGAGEMENT LOYALTY ARTICLE). It’s imperative that clients are aware of their points and rewards and having a salon app is a great starting place. We are salon loyalty experts and help salons build successful programs that grow sales in the short and long term, increase new client retention, and create a database of client data that you can use to send special offers and communications to bridge the communication gap with clients between visits.
For more information and a free demo of how a salon loyalty app program can work for you, visit www.salonsos.ca/loyalty.
Retail sales are critical to real salon profitability and by implementing the strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to growing your bottom line without having to be a salesperson!